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Homeopathy and the Ex-Chief Scientific Advisor

Sir John Beddington, ex-Chief Scientific Advisor to the Government has appeared on these pages  before:

2009: He is attacked for defending (sic) the Government’s support of NHS homeopathy.

2010: He changes his tune (The Chief Scientific Advisor is apparently for turning) and attacks NHS homeopathy, claiming it could mislead patients.

2012: In a slightly less than scientific use of the language, he describes NHS homeopathy as ‘crazy’.

2013: Now as the ex-Chief Scientific Advisor, he has again referred to NHS homeopathy as ‘madness’.

Now Beddington is not a medical doctor so we should not hold these rather puerile ‘diagnoses’ of homeopathy against the man. He is a specialist in the economics and biology of sustainable management of renewable resources and has previously advised UK ministers on scientific and environmental issues.  He should therefore know that homeopathy is very, environmentally friendly and cost-effective. He should also know that two successive Governments have heard  much more sophisticated criticism of homeopathy than his crude insults and come out totally in favour of NHS homeopathy. They have done this because they still cling to a vestige of democracy and choose to protect the substantial minority of people who want homeopathy and CAM on the NHS. Finally he should understand that his statements are a gross insult to NHS GPs  who choose to send their patients to other medical doctors who include homeopathy in their medicinal arsenals. To think that he (a non-doctor) knows better than a patient’s GP (a qualified MD) what is clinically optimal for any of the GP’s patients, strikes me as a trifle arrogant.

By | 2013-04-10T20:25:28+00:00 April 10th, 2013|Current Affairs, Homeopathy|6 Comments

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  1. Louise Mclean April 11, 2013 at 11:03 am

    One can only wonder who ‘got to him’ to make him change his mind!

    Anybody reading this who would like to support saving the NHS Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital, which is one of the last fully functioning homeopathic hospitals in Britain and a template for all other hospitals, please sign the Petition:


    • Dr. Kaplan April 11, 2013 at 11:13 am

      Yes, definitely do sign that petition.

  2. Tetenterre April 11, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    So Beddington changed his opinion when he was presented with more evidence. Exactly what is wrong with that?

    I, too, used to use and advocate homeopathy. More evidence has shown me that I was wrong. Should I cling to my old beliefs in the face of evidence?

    • Dr. Kaplan April 12, 2013 at 10:47 am

      Hi Tetenterre, I do not agree he changed his mind based on ‘more evidence’. Homeopathy was controversial in 1948 when the founders of the NHS invited (sic) self funded homeopathic hospitals to be part of the NHS. It was controversial in 2009 when Beddington defended it and controversial this week when he described it as ‘mad’. That his remarks at private events like this can still be ‘news’ is ridiculous. Two successive governments have heard the evidence in detail and decided to keep NHS homeopathy – perhaps more for democratic reasons than anything else. But that is a good thing for all libertarians, a not so good thing for scientismists and authoritarians.

      I’m amazed at how the media gives the opponents of homeopathy so much oxygen. A substantial minority of patients want NHS homeopathy and democracy wants them to have it. That’s it. It doesn’t matter that the disciples of scientism don’t like this. They wouldn’t like it if this country elected a Christian Democratic Party to power, but such a party would be entitled to stand and govern if elected however ‘irrational’ the ‘sceptics’ thought its beliefs were. Similarly, the significant minority of patients in this country who want NHS homeopathy are protected by two successive Governments that believe in minority rights. Critics of homeopathy need to ‘get over’ this.

  3. David Eyles April 11, 2013 at 7:54 pm

    Have signed the petition about 10 days ago.

    There seems to be a rule that the further up the Establishment tree an eminent scientist ascends, then the more ossified their thinking and the more likely they will be to parrot the group-think of the day without considering the issue properly.

    Beddington has done it and so has Professor Dame Sally Davies (our new Chief Medical Officer for England and Wales) – both to Parliamentary committees recently. Their comments, which are uttered without any reference to the available evidence, are both ill-considered and unscientific.

    I cannot remember who the replacement for Beddington is but I have a feeling he is connected with Pharma via the Wellcome Trust, so there will be no change there, and perhaps more underhand manoeuvres against homeopathy. We have to hope that the democratic process defends us better than science has done.

  4. Donald Scott July 26, 2013 at 9:00 pm

    I think there may well be changes to the existing consultation system in the NHS for patients seeing their GP. These changes are necessary because the exising system is too expensive and doesn’t work to improve healthcare outcomes (as they say). If a set cost of the proposed charge of £10 per visit, with incremental charges for those who can afford it (accountants and ‘professionals’ £100) then homeopathy will be seen in a different light.

    As in Germany where you pay to see your GP and homeopathy is still alive and well, I reckon homeopathy will see a new dawn.

    Make sure you wear sunglasses…….

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